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Final Decision FIC2014-038
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Van M. Brown,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-038
Nicholas H. Mullane, II, First Selectman,
Town of North Stonington; Board of Selectmen,
Town of North Stonington; and
Town of North Stonington
     Respondents
September 10, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as contested case on August 11, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented extensive sworn testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

     The complaint, dated January 16, 2014, alleged an array of records and meetings violations of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). However, it became apparent that the Commission did not have jurisdiction over allegations that unlawful executive sessions had been conducted on January 29, 2013 and March 5, 2013. The complainant withdrew this portion of his complaint. There was also sworn testimony that certain requested records do not exist. Concerning other records requests, the complainant stated that all relevant records had been provided and there was “nothing further to pursue”.
     The complaint also alleged a violation of the right to prompt inspection and the right to have records maintained in an accessible place. The alleged violation was based upon a request to inspect agendas and minutes of meetings of the respondent board of selectmen that was made during the Christmas holiday season, on either December 30 or 31, 2013. After the complainant expressed his high regard for Norma J. Holliday, the town clerk, who was involved in responding to the complainant’s inspection request, the parties agreed to conduct an off the record settlement conference without the presence of the hearing officer.
     When the hearing was reconvened, the parties informed the hearing officer that they had reached a settlement. The respondents stipulated that, in addition to the web site improvements that had already been implemented (posting the agendas and minutes of every public agency of the town), the more recent minutes of the respondent board of selectmen (which had been maintained only in the vault in the respondent first selectman’s office) would henceforth be maintained in the town clerk’s vault, which is open to any member of the public during business hours. Based upon this stipulation, the complainant stated that he wished to withdraw his complaint.
     The Commission recommends the following orders on the basis of the record:
     1.  Based on the withdrawal of the complaint, the case is hereby dismissed.
     2.  The Commission commends both parties for reaching a settlement of their FOIA disputes without full adjudication.   
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 10, 2014.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Van M. Brown
925 River Road
Mystic, CT  06372
Nicholas H. Mullane, II, First Selectman, Town of North
Stonington; Board of Selectmen, Town of North Stonington;
and Town of North Stonington
c/o Robert A. Avena, Esq.
Avena & Kepple, LLC
20 South Anguilla Road
P.O. Box 1445
Pawcatuck, CT  06379

____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-038/FD/cac/9/10/2014